Congress leader Kapil Sibal sponsored Television (TV) channel Tiranga TV is learned to have shut shop after many other funders from Congress expressed disinterest post the washout in the Lok Sabha elections. From Tuesday on Tiranga TV disappeared from many cable and Dish TV operators such as major service provider Airtel DTH platform. Several staffers who are facing the demand from the management to resign, accepting one month’s salary as compensation, accuse Sibal’s wife Promila for this harsh stand. They say that the atmosphere in the TV channel changed a few months ago after Promila Sibal started interfering in the day-to-day operations and arbitrarily changing the job contracts of many staffers and creating a false alarm on “steep expenses”.
Staffers say Sibal told them some months ago that the TV channel would be run professionally and will not mix with the election outcomes. He told many staffers that already more than Rs.40 crores were invested and all staffers would be given two-year job security. There are more than 240 staffers recruited in December 2018 on the editorial and technical side of Tiranga TV, which was earlier named as Harvest TV. Recently more than 70 staffers were terminated with one month salary as compensation and many journalists staged a protest against “evading Kapil Sibal” in front of the Press Club of India, Delhi.
People in the industry say apart from Sibal, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Karnataka money bag D K Shivakumar were supposed to fund the channel and the project was expected to raise money of around Rs.300 crores.
Many senior journalists like Barkha Dutt, Karan Thapar, and Maneesh Chhibber started associating with the Congress leaders funded Tiranga TV on a three-year contract and several staffers say that including them these senior leaders may be expected to approach the court for the management’s decision to shut shop abruptly. There were earlier agreements to provide six months worth of salaries as compensation which later changed to three months salary and compensation and finally many were shunted out with just one month salary. Many blame Sibal’s wife Promila for this harsh decision as they say that she argued for harsh measures openly in the company meetings. She used to tell us how she promptly closed her meat shops when she sensed a loss of revenue, say staffers.
People in the industry say apart from Sibal, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Karnataka money bag D K Shivakumar were supposed to fund the channel and the project was expected to raise money of around Rs.300 crores. No Marketing staffers were recruited and the Congress leaders’ idea was to create a pro-Congress TV Channel platform to counter BJP’s propaganda. There were reports that Chidambaram routed the money through a friendly lady entrepreneur engaged in pen making industry. Naveen Jindal was also expected to join the fundraising club for Tiranga TV and all lost interest after their party’s washout in the Lok Sabha elections, making the future uncertain for 250 journalists and technicians.